Spain Wine

Sherry: Amontillado

Continuing our series on sherry wine, which we started with fino, our next stop is Amontillado.

In fino, the flor (a film of yeasts) plays a crucial aspect in maintaining freshness and shaping the flavour profile of the resulting wine. These yeasts can provide a barrier to oxygen for up to ten years if the barrels are refilled periodically with younger wine from a solera system to replenish the essential nutrients the velo de flor requires. 

Given time, this film of yeast eventually dies and the wine will start to age purely oxidatively.  During its life, the flor also metabolises the alcohol in the wine, increasing its water content. Only the evaporation of water through the wood barrels maintains in equilibrium the alcohol level. The yeast’s demise breaks this balance and the alcohol content rises with time. The end product becomes amontillado

With oxidation, amontillados lose the floral and citrus notes of fino to gain a more nuttier profile, with aromas of herbs and spices from the oak. The biological and oxidative ageing in conjunction yields in our opinion the most complex wines in Jerez and probably in the world. 

High quality amontillados when provided with enough time (20 to 30 years) develop elegant notes of orange zest reminiscent of Madeira wines. These wines, labeled VOS or VORS (Very Old and Rare Sherry) for 20 and 30-year-old sherries, respectively are normally certified these ages by carbon-14 dating. The passage of time for VORS tends to rise the ABV (alcohol by volume) up to 20%.

Very few producers deliver this level of quality. Among them are Equipo Navazos, Lustau and González Byass (Cuatro Palmas or Del Duque). What is most shocking is the price of the wines. The current market neglects these old treasures yielding prices of £30 for 50cl, which would be unheard of in other regions at this level of quality.

Tasting notes:

Lustau – Amontillado VORS 30 Years
Nose:Intense orange zest and walnuts.
Palate:Zest and lime on the attack, leading to hazelnut and walnuts and an extremely long orange and saline finish. The texture is very dense and concentrated.
Structure:High acid, tangy, bone dry, high alcohol, very full bodied. Textural traces of lees and ageing.

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